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My Perfect Combination: Customers and Food

At the recent BIO International convention, I was able to combine two of my favourite things – talking to customers and an excellent meal!


Somehow, it’s already a month since BIO International. The week in Boston went by in a blur of meetings, conversations and networking but for me, there was one stand-out occasion. It actually took place on the eve of BIO, before the craziness really kicked in, and it was the first official meeting of our Customer Advisory Board (CAB).

As a huge advocate (some might say obsessive) of the importance of the voice of the customer, the CAB has been on my wish list for some time. I truly believe there is no better way to ensure that we’re serving our customers than to sit around table with them and talk through their needs – and if we can do that over an excellent meal, then so much the better!

Around that table we had representatives of big pharma, clinical-stage biotechs and suppliers to the life sciences market, giving us a great cross-section of the industry. From our perspective, that means a clear view of what we’re getting right as a partner and where we can focus on improvement. The pace of change in the pharma industry means that no matter how much we evolve, there will always be something more we can add or refine. We shared some of our latest thinking on our product roadmap and there was plenty to talk about as the evening progressed.

I won’t share the many, many pages of notes we made, but there were a few interesting themes that I thought it might be interesting to share.

  1. Google has a lot to answer for!
    I’m being disingenuous here, Google is great, but it does give us all high expectations of what “search” should look like. As users, we’re all used to tapping in a casual question and getting exactly what we wanted. When you’re dealing with the intricacies of epidemiology data, complex deal structures and clinical readouts, this is pretty tricky but UX remains a focus across our product set. Fortunately, our UX team had a seat at the table and were already well on the way with a big project in this direction. Stay tuned!
  2. The early bird…
    When it comes to data, early is better. In a hugely competitive market, time is of the essence so the earlier in the pipeline that forecasts are available, the better. There was plenty of discussion about the balance between speed and accuracy, but that’s all part of the risk/return nature of the pharma industry. It’s something we’ve always worked hard on, and it was great to have that validated by the group.
  3. Partners, not providers
    Personally, I think the days of companies being “just” data providers have been over for some time – at least for those who plan to thrive. This was confirmed by our group who were clear that they’re looking for a proactive partnership, a two-way conversation in which we can all be clear and honest and challenge each other’s assumptions.

The Evaluate team, which included colleagues from customer success, commercial, product management and innovation came away from the session energised and with loads of ideas. I believe that our customers felt the same and I know many of them are looking forward to future sessions and hoping to bring along members from their teams as well. A huge thank you to those that attended for their time, enthusiasm and focus throughout the evening.

We are already planning our next CAB meeting for the autumn and I’m thoroughly looking forward to expanding the conversation to a wider group. However, that’s not the only way to get your voice heard. I am not kidding when I say I am obsessed with the voice of the customer so if you have ideas, views or suggestions, please do drop me a line. I am always up for a chat – with or without great food!


Christina Kay

Global SVP, Customer Success & Exec Team Member


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